Having not done one since she was 10 years old, our associate editor Alexandria Stuart recalls just how dirty paper routes are.
Yes, paper routes are a dirty, dirty business. Once the writing and layout and editing and printing are done, The Navigator is still just a doorstop unless it has an audience, and to do that it needs to be in a variety of places. Many places. To that end there’s this part on the job application—the print is particularly small—and it says: “You will deliver papers.”
What they don’t tell you is that your hands will be black by the end of the process, but this is just part of the sacrifice, the supreme sacrifice we make to put our shining glory into our dear readers’ hands. They also don’t tell you how much fun it is to walk into businesses and give them something so fine looking and free; it turns out that people are really friendly when you give them free things. Who knew? But what are they and their customers getting—what are you really getting—when the latest edition of The Nav hits the stands?
Well, we’re the paper of record for Vancouver Island University. We provide a chronicle, an archive of student life and the climate of the times here in the mid-Island. We provide access. While we can’t guarantee them column inches, everyone on campus is guaranteed the opportunity to pitch their stories. They will always have their voices heard and, space permitting, there’s a good chance they’ll get some ink. Sometimes these people and groups may have a hard time penetrating the mainstream press in local papers, television, and radio. So we’re here to tell their stories whether their hard news, sports, arts-related, or in that other nebulous world of features.
We don’t corner the market on telling stories though, they live in all of us. Many are shared around the dinner table or the pool table, during a round of golf or a round of beer. But a wider reach requires people who will work like smiths to pound out the words and shape them on paper hoping to reach eyes, hearts, and minds, that they’ll affect, entertain, educate, or persuade. That’s us.
The notion of storytelling has had a bad rap lately though. The term has been co-opted by branding and advertising folk who believe they’ll sell more lotions and potions if they somehow attach the product to a story. They’re working on the premise that some sort of contrived narrative elevates a sales pitch into something more meaningful. They’re calling themselves storytellers today, which I think cheapens what actual writers do. It seems to be working for now and consumers are buying it. No need to rise up for a good old Madison Ave. defenestration though; given a little time they’ll move on, find something else to appropriate, and exercise their agendas elsewhere.
Here at The Nav we (to the best of my knowledge) have no agenda. Our total lack of agenda is less altruistic than logistic: we’re too crushed for time to conspire, collude, or otherwise craft a master message for our readers. We’re just a bunch of writing and graphics students given carte blanche to explore ideas, and hope to do the right thing while we’re at it. Staff and contributors enjoy equal opportunity to bask in the warm glow of publication. So without agenda we all simply throw what we have down on the page with the goal that it will affect you in some way.
This kind of access to an audience, this voice, it’s a privilege. How many people languish in their jobs and never enjoy an opportunity to share their thoughts, to persuade, or spread their knowledge? This platform, it’s a gift. With words and images we pick up a story, personalize it, and try to make sure we deliver more than just the salacious headlines the major news networks are dishing out (note: just because it’s on the news doesn’t mean it’s true). We try to serve up food for thought that lets the reader draw their own conclusions. It’s part of what makes us different from other mainstream media: we’re not just trying to drive ad sales.
Full disclosure: We do have an agenda this year. We will be working to pull The Nav fully into the 21st century, into the full stream of modern online media. This means we’ll be developing strong online integration, taking our website to heights heretofore unknown, and activating our social media presence to reach our readers with all the power and might that the interwebs have to offer. Our online staff are primed, ready, and ink-stain free. Go!